Thursday, June 19, 2014

Ollie's Bargain Outlet Stockbridge, Georgia MY THOUGHTS

I love a good deal, I'm a total bargain shopper at heart. Who doesn't love a good deal? Call me cheap, I don't care because I freely admit it. My cheapness affords me to enjoy most anything I want. Like most of the world, I hate Wal-Mart even though it seems to be unavoidable at times. I prefer stores like Aldi, Freds, Family Dollar, Roses and Dollar General for my everyday items and if I could get away with it (except for shoes and clothing) those would be the only places I'd pretty much shop.
For a few weeks, I've seen advertisements of a new store opening June 18, 2014 in the old location of Fred's in Stockbridge, Georgia called Ollie's Bargain Outlet. The sales paper looked great, nice deals on "name brand" items and lots of opening day extras. Terry and I decide to check it out, jump in the car and we head down to Stockbridge to hit Ollie's, At Home (the former Garden Ridge) and Brandsmart USA. The parking lot of Ollie's was a madhouse. A mix of old people and the people you think of when someone says the words "cheap" or at least the people that you'd know that decorate their homes with items they only find from Dollar Tree. Being that we are in a new car that's less than a month old, we parked as far away as we could without getting a heatstroke from the walk to the front door with the 99 degree heat index of the day.

This place seemed to have over hired a bunch of managers and a mix of overly eager to please and get in your way oblivious sales people. I abandoned my shopping cart four minutes after entering the store after being blocked in every aisle I went down or being nearly collided with by people not paying attention. My patience was not to be tested with dumb people fixated on closeouts, department store cast offs, factory seconds and refurbished stuff. The store was nicely laid out and well organized as well as the selection of products wasn't bad. I think the only way to explain Ollie's to someone that hasn't been is it is sort of like MacFrugals before Big Lots swallowed them up.

I can't say I was impressed, in fact on many levels I was appalled at the "deals" that I was seeing. Many of the advertised deals were cheap but cheap not only described the price, it described the product. Fruit of the Loom T-Shirts for 99 cents, irregular and not SLIGHTLY and a $1.99 aluminum frying pan with no lid that would make it through the dishwasher twice before rusting or showing fatigue. The regular items ranged from JCP (JC Penny) branded sheets to Kirkland's Signature (Costco) shirts to TeleBrand as seen on TV knock offs. Many items were sold to this chain for obvious reasons, no one wants a no name or unrecognizable brand pack of coffee in a bag that looks like package of just add water muffins. The prices? As I pointed out to Terry, weren't as great as most of the shoppers in the store thought. I'm that nerd that knows prices of the same products from store to store, I think it's because of the years I was in retail as well as when I ran my own store online years ago. A box of Old Dominion Peanut Brittle in the snack section priced at $1.97 was the very same box found at the Family Dollar and Dollar General for just a buck. Gillette Razors priced the same as you'd find at Wal-Mart when they are on sale. They also had Tide Laundry Detergent at a "closeout" price which was incidentally higher than the cost of the same box at Roses. I found, for the most part, that the pricing seemed to be lower than a department store and yet they were higher than discount store prices.

We did manage to grab two items, a polo style shirt for $2.99 which will most likely shrink after the first wash and a 50 retractable water hose for $9.00. We stood in line for what took longer than it should have, got to the front and realized they have a discount card program. The cashier told us we couldn't sign up at the register, we'd have to go to the counter by the door and then wait in line at the registers again. We paid without worrying about the 10% or whatever the offer was. As we left the store, we both agreed that we will not be back. Nice attempt Ollie but a bargain is NO bargain if the exact same product is cheaper somewhere else.

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